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Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

Department of English

375 Church Street North Adams, MA 02147 Phone: 555.555.5555 Fax: 666.666.6666 E-Mail: engdept@mcla.edu Web: eng.mcla.edu

To: All Faculty, English Department From: Nicole Love, Devan M. Monroe, Emmitt Wyche CC: Dr. Nancy Pawlyshyn Date: March 2, 2014 Re: Teaching with Technology

Memorandum
Dear colleagues, As you may be aware, President Grant attended the annual American Council on Education conference last week in Washington, D.C. Yesterday, during our monthly Senior Academic Administration meeting with the president, she articulated some key points from the conference, emphasizing our need to continue along a path of innovation and adapt to the changing landscape of higher education. It is no secret that the future of the liberal arts education is in serious jeopardy and the recent economic climate has not been kind; applicant pools have diminished while expenses continue to rise. President Grant sees a special challenge for MCLA, especially considering our size compared to other institutions, both in the Berkshires and across the country. In order to ensure we continue along our path of innovation and maintain our adaptability, President Grant has outlined a basic plan for implementing technology in MCLAs classrooms. The plan includes incorporating educational technology into our classrooms as instructional aides and supplements as well as to offer entire classes online. A long-term goal of creating an entirely online degree program is also included for rollout during academic year 2018-2019. Educational technology has been in use since the 1990s and other institutions similar in size and scope to MCLA have incorporated technology into their classrooms with great success. Our colleagues at Wesleyan University in Connecticut and Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania have documented great positive outcomes in using educational technology as a supplement for course lectures and classroom discussions. Following the examples put forth by these institutions, we believe that the use of these technologies will enable us to provide further academic support for our students, especially those who may be struggling in our classrooms. Further, the creation of online classroom experiences and resources will allow our faculty to add depth to their courses by incorporating the use of web discussion boards, the opportunity to view pertinent video clips and other multimedia materials, as well as allow them to exercise more assessment flexibility while cutting down on evaluation time through the use of electronic, self-grading exams.

We, along with President Grant, feel including more educational technology is a positive step forward. Studies show todays youth are extremely interconnected via the Internet and mobile devices. Through implementation of these technologies, we can further engage our students, allowing them to easily and efficiently access course materials twenty-four hours a day, either from their personal computers or a smartphone. Research surrounding these new educational platforms has been very positive thus far. Students tend to be more active in courses containing a technological component, and research has shown that they tend to learn more in a blended (online and face-to-face) learning environment. Many students desire to use technology in connection with their course materials. There are several vendors and options for the campus community to consider over the upcoming months. The Academic Technology Committee (ATC) will initially pre-screen potential options for adoption. Once they have tested these options, they will present them to the campus community for feedback. President Grant has charged each department chair(s) with the task of developing a focus group within their departments to form a unified opinion on behalf of their faculty on the different technologies available to the institution. Based upon the responses of these focus groups, the ATC will then determine the most appropriate option for MCLA to adopt. Following the final selection, the ATC will hold several trainings on how to use, and make the most of, the new technology. Several in-person sessions will be offered, as well as web-based trainings and videos. The aim of these trainings is to ensure that all of MCLAs faculty are adequately prepared to actively use the new platforms in the development of courses and their instructional materials. Additional training sessions will be available by request following the formal sessions. President Grant is aware that there may be some concerns regarding how this initiative will relate to our mission and identity as a public liberal arts college. She has assured all department chairs that these changes will not negatively impact or redefine MCLA in this way. She feels strongly that the incorporation of technology into our educational setting will only work to enhance these guiding principles and move our institution forward and she invites any faculty member with questions, concerns or ideas to contact her office directly. In the next few weeks, we will be sending around a survey to gauge your current computer literacy, your feelings about the steps toward using educational technology, and whether you would like to sit on the English Departments focus group. We will compile all the data, remove all identifying information, analyze it, and prepare a report for submission to the ATC and to President Grant. This report will help the administration take the proper steps toward making this transition as smooth as possible. Along with the survey, we will include a list of supporting data and articles about technology use in the classroom for your review. We hope that these articles and their data will help further illuminate the importance of taking this step forward to ensure we adhere to our standards as the Commonwealths public liberal arts college. If you have any questions about this campus-wide transition, please contact us immediately. Warm regards, Nicole Love, Devan M. Monroe, and Emmitt Wyche
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Co-Department Chairs, Department of English